Snow Day and a Discount!

11307617093_a605db6cac_oWe’ve found ourselves with an unexpected snow day here in Virginia. So while we hang out drinking tea, eating cookies, and enjoy the view, why not treat yourself to something wooly and warm from my Etsy shop? 20% off everything now through Thursday with code SNOWDAY

Thanks for your support. Stay warm!

xo, S.

You Can Come Out Now!

hand knits for baby // plaid skirtI think I’ve heard this scenario a thousand times: Woman gets pregnant, woman decides to make blanket/sweater/hat/other crafty thing for baby, baby comes before completion of crafty thing, and lies unfinished and unused for years in a closet. Well, friends, NOT ME! I have finished my baby things. I am ready for the baby. I tell the baby about them. I say “Hey, tiny baby, I know it’s cold out here in the big world, but I made you a blanket, and a hat, and a sweater to keep you warm. So, if you could stop using my bladder as a pillow and come hang out with us on the outside that would be awesome, we are soooooo excited to meet you. OK? Thanks.”

So we’ve past the 37 week mark and I have high hopes that our little bundle will arrive just a little early. I would hate for it to have to share a birthday with Christmas. It sounds romantic, but seems wildly unfair in the long run. Ask anyone who has a birthday around Christmas, and they’ll roll their eyes and tell you how it always gets lost in the shuffle. Heck, my birthday is a month afterwards and it always feels like a bit of a holiday after thought. So, I hope the baby is a little early. We’re as ready as we can be for it, and I’m super excited to not have to wear these ill-fitting maternity clothes anymore.

hand knit baby blanket // plaid skirt

I started the blanket a few weeks ago. It’s 4 skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, and one skein of Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Woodsmoke which were both hanging out in my stash. I modified the stitch from this pattern, and I’m really happy with the result. I’ve been a big fan of color blocking (if you couldn’t tell from checking out my store) lately, so I’m happy to bring a bit of it into our home for the new one.hand knits for baby // plaid skirt

The sweater is a pattern from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts, and is made from Wool of the Andes worsted in Dove Grey and Garnet Heather. I like that it’s a little reminiscent of a candy cane, but will still look nice throughout the winter. While I love this pattern (it’s knit flat and then seamed at the end) I would definitely not recommend making this pattern in stripes. You end up with lots of ends to tuck in from having to break and rejoin the yarn in different spots. I am happy that I managed to match up the stripes while seaming. That larger stripe across the chest was intentional. I may still add a single crochet border around the front opening and neck, but I will probably skip the buttons. I made one for the Bear and never put buttons on it either.

hand knits for baby // plaid skirt

The hat is a slightly modified version of this hat from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. It’s made of Knit Picks Comfy in Dove and Hawk. I wanted something soft for the little one’s head, and this stuff is super soft, with a little bit of acrylic to keep it’s shape. I hope it fits! I love little babies in hand knits.

It was important to me to make new things for the baby instead of just letting him or her use the things I made for the Bear. I want them to be able to have their own things that they’ll hopefully pass on through their families some day.

hand knit baby blanket // plaid skirt

PS. I haven’t had a chance to Ravel these yet, but if you’re on Ravelry, Let’s be friends!

Go For Launch

plaid skirt etsy shopIf you’ll recall this post from the beginning of the month, my number one goal was to do something that scares me. Well, guys, I launched an Etsy shop, and yes it is scary. Friends have encouraged me to do this for years, but I just couldn’t bring myself to invest the time or the startup capital to give it a go. I didn’t feel creative enough. I didn’t feel like my handmade things were good enough to share with people beyond my family and close friends. I felt like I didn’t have enough ideas. Plus, I was scared that it would be a huge failure, so I just kept talking myself out of it. Fortunately, over this past year I’ve really started to feel more creative, inspired, and driven to be a better maker. DB has been hugely encouraging and supportive, even helping me choose colors and QC design ideas. I’m so lucky to have here cheering me on (and pushing me, I really need the pushing).

And so friends, here’s the start. The Plaid Skirt Etsy shop. We’re starting off with a collection of women’s hats. I love these things so much that it will be hard to part with them! They’re made with a super soft, chunky wool & alpaca blend yarn that has been lovely to work with. Plus, I think you’ll really dig the color palette, perfect for winter!

I’ll be adding more products over the coming weeks including holiday ornaments, home textiles, and perhaps some other knit accessories. I hope you’ll check it out, like what you see, and spread the word. Stay tuned to the blog for upcoming shop updates and specials. Thank you so much for your support.

Blue Bell Mountain

long chevron scarf // plaid skirtI came across this pattern on Ravelry a couple months ago and I totally fell in love with it. I loved the featured color way, the stitch patterns and the alternating textures created by the garter and stockinette sections. I also really liked the fact that the yarn called for (O Wool Local) was partially grown just across the bridge from where I grew up and milled in Philadelphia. I wanted to cast on right away. Of course, there’s not a whole lot of room in our budget for more yarn, and one of my goals this year has been to keep knitting from my stash. Immediately I thought of the Beaverslide Fisherman 3-ply (also raised in America) that I had bought last year with the idea of making an afghan only to realize I hadn’t bought nearly enough for what I had in mind. So I took 4 skeins. 2 of Big Sky Blue, one Autumn Licorice, and one oddball brown guy that I’d bought back in 2007. Originally I’d intended this for myself, but DB saw it and immediately loved the color combo, so I happily knit it for him instead. It is quite masculine after all.

long chevron scarf // plaid skirt

I really love Beaverslide yarns. The wool is raised in Montana and milled in just over the border in Canada. It’s thick, wooly, has great stitch definition, really blooms after blocking.  I have a couple skeins of Big Sky Blue left after this, along with some dark heather grey that I think will translate to a sweater for myself. Anyway, while gorgeous, it’s also significantly heavier than O Wool Local, it took some trial and error to figure out what needles to use and how many stitches to cast on. I ended up using size 11 with 37 stitches cast on which gave me about 9″ in width after blocking. It’s forever long, hence mountain instead of hill. In fact we keep referring to it as his Doctor scarf since the length is reminiscent of Tom Baker’s as 4th Doctor. P1030169

 

Instead of following the pattern verbatim, I alternated the garter and stockinette sections as seemed fitting. That’s what I like best about this, it’s a very adaptable the stitch pattern. You can really make it with any yarn in any color(s) you like, but thanks to the chevron created by the paired decreased on each end and the lifted increases in the middle, you end up with something much more stunning than a traditional garter stitch scarf. I’m actually using the garter pattern in fingering weight to make a blanket for our impending baby. I also think this would look great made a bit wider in a single color and used as a table runner. Raveled here.

long chevron scarf // plaid skirt long chevron scarf // plaid skirt

Knit Love

I can honestly say it’s been a while since I was really truly stoked on knitting. Don’t get me wrong, I love knitting, and often feel lost if I’m sitting in front of the tv without yarn in my hands, but recently most of those times I’ve been working on a simple hat or scarf mostly for stash busting. It’s not been the most inspiring work, but this year I’m finding pattern after pattern to oogle and dream about, and frantically run to my (ever decreasing!) stash in order to make. I think the knitting world itself has really taken off in the last couple of years. Ravelry has played a big roll, of course, because it allows so many great and emerging designers out there to publish independently and really bring new and innovative designs to the table, something that’s been harder to find in traditional print publications over the last couple years. I’m also a huge fan of the growing number of small American raised and milled yarn companies that are helping to keep the textile industry in this country alive. Here are some of my most recent cravings, and for more check out my Ravelry favorites here.

Arrowhead Cardigan from Imperial Stock Ranch. This is waaaaay more colorwork than I've ever taken on, but Imperial yarns are heavenly and this would get wear for years.

Arrowhead Cardigan from Imperial Stock Ranch. This is waaaaay more colorwork than I’ve ever taken on, but Imperial yarns are heavenly and this would get wear for years.

Oshima from Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2013. I think this would be awesome through the winter as I recover from having a baby. Cozy coverage, perfect.

Oshima from Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2013. I think this would be awesome through the winter as I recover from having a baby. Cozy coverage, perfect.

Ysolda's Rhinebeck Sweater. It's called Pumpkin Ale, enough said really.

Ysolda’s Rhinebeck Sweater. It’s called Pumpkin Ale, enough said really.

 

Forge from Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2012. An oldie, but I really like the different techniques used to cast on and shape the cap. Plus, who doesn't want to knit with Shelter?

Forge from Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2012. An oldie, but I really like the different techniques used to cast on and shape the cap. Plus, who doesn’t want to knit with Shelter?

Perfect Storm from Twist Collective. In addition to having great content on knitting, Twist Collective consistently has awesome patterns from great designers.

Perfect Storm from Twist Collective. In addition to having great content on knitting, Twist Collective consistently has awesome patterns from great designers.

 

A Hat for Bear

P1020807It’s hard to believe that the Bear will be 2 in a little over two weeks. This time last year he couldn’t even walk without help, now he’s running laps around me as I type. He’s even (mostly) moved out of his crib and is managing not to fall out of the twin size bed we put together last weekend. I know, I know, they grow so fast. But really, they do. Watching a child grow from a helpless lump to an opinionated person with their own wants, likes, and dislikes is fascinating. Not only because you well with pride when they triumph, but you think about the small and big challenges in your life that you had to tackle and overcome to get to this point. If you told me 3 years ago I would be here with a toddler and another baby on the way, I would have laughed. I would have thought it some impossible dream that I’d given up years before.

How did I get here? In the end it’s really pretty simple. DB was coming back to the east coast for a visit after his first deployment. We were only acquaintances, but I knew I wanted to see him again so I invited him to stop down in Philly for a visit since he’d be relatively close…the rest is history.  We were married a few months later, welcomed the Bear into our life shortly after that and we haven’t looked back since. Much like the Bear takes a leap of faith every time he tries to walk down the stairs by himself, or jump, or climb the jungle gym in the park, DB and I took a leap of faith in each other and it’s made our lives so much better.P1020798

Like all new families we are still establishing our traditions. One of my favorites is making new hats for everyone when falls rolls around. I knit this one during some unseasonably warm days in the hopes that it cooler weather would be close behind. I’m happy to report we’ve been waking up to a cool house, wearing pants and long sleeve tops, and seeing far few houseflies flooding in whenever we open a door. Life is good.P1020797

The pattern is Kim’s Hats from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (which according to Amazon, I purchased in October of 2005). It’s my favorite basic hat pattern, easy, quick, endlessly adaptable. I used leftover Shelter from Brooklyn Tweed in the Tent color way. It was leftover from a hat I knit for Bear’s Grampy last Christmas. The brown is from some rogue skein of Lorna’s Laces that I’d mistakenly received as part of a larger order many years ago (like when I first started knitting). So I think it’s fitting that he will now coordinate with his Grampy, but also have a little piece of my knitting past as a symbol of how far we’ve both come.P1020796

Raveled here.

Hope you’re all enjoying cooler weather.

xo, S.

Comfort

P1010778Is there anything that really compares to the comfort a wooly, oversized sweater? Right now, I don’t think so. I started this one back in November and then promptly set it aside for holiday knitting. It’s Tinder from Brooklyn Tweed’s Fall ’11 collection (Raveled here) The yarn is Cascade 220 that I had lying around. It had once been destined to become a crocheted jacket, but then I realized I’m just not a fan of crocheted garments.

P1010771

I’m really pleased with the way this turned out. In some ways, it was a nail biter. My initial gauge swatch yielded correct stitch gauge but was way off on row gauge. The second swatch was spot on for row and about 2 off on stitch gauge. After a lot of frantic researching and some brain bending math, I decided to best course of action would be to go off the second swatch, cast on for the size 39″ and with any luck it would even out to a size 36″. Guess what? It worked. It doesn’t always happen that way. Gauge swatching is so important. Even when they don’t come out right, you can work off of them and adjust accordingly. I didn’t spend several weeks knitting this bad boy up only to have it end up unwearable. Wool is expensive, so is my (and your) time. In hindsight, I should have done a separate swatch for the sleeves, they came a bit bigger and needed a bit of fudging during the blocking process.P1010775

Overall, the knitting part of this was quick. The pattern is easy enough that you can do it while watching TV or looking after a rambunctious Bear. I’m sure there are plenty of gals out there who adapted this to be knit in the round, but I like when one craft informs another. In other words, seaming gives me more hand sewing experience and is there for valuable and worthwhile. I steam blocked the pieces individually and then seamed and then wet blocked. I’ve become a firm believer in doing your finishing work as soon as you cast off the last piece. This way I have far fewer UFOs and a nice new sweater to snuggle into during our endless days of rain and mid-40s weather. Oh, Pacific Northwest, don’y you change one bit!P1010776

The length turned out a bit longer than I might have liked, though no longer than is indicated on the model in the pattern. If you make this, you may want to measure from your shoulder and determine which length would best suit you. I did a color-blocked color and hem because I was afraid I didn’t have quite enough of the brown, and also because I liked the idea of breaking it up. After checking out the other finished Tinders on Ravelry, I liked the look of classic leather knot buttons and went with those. P1010754

Oh and PS. I got a little love on Shutterbean today. Isn’t the Internet great sometimes? I like that we can share and exchange and create new things from a community that is supportive and encouraging.